“I’m just this protected, pampered inbred.”
When farmer, William Tey is found decapitated in his barn, Inspector Lynley and Sgt Havers from Scotland Yard are dispatched to a remote Yorkshire village to solve the crime. The murdered farmer’s daughter, Roberta, who was found next to the body, is now in a catatonic state and locked up in a mental institution. Any murder investigation requires understanding the victim, and Lynley and Havers discover some very interesting information about Tey. On one hand, the local vicar claims Tey was a veritable pillar of the community, but stormy local artist, Ezra claims Tey was a violent man. Lynley and Havers struggle to determine the truth about Tey and solve the crime.
A Great Deliverance is the first episode in the Inspector Lynley television series. The characters and the story are based on the detective novels of Elizabeth George. A Great Deliverance is an introduction of the main characters–the detective team of Lynley and Havers. Lynley (Nathaniel Parker) is actually the 8th Earl of Asherton–he’s aristocratic, wealthy and even has an ancestral home somewhere. Barbara Havers (Sharon Small), on the other hand, is working class, lives in a tiny, depressing council house, and life is an uphill struggle. Lynley and Havers are teamed together–deliberately–by their superiors. It is hoped that Lynley and Havers will fail miserably. And they do have a bumpy start. Havers has a gigantic chip on her shoulder. She’s prickly and as Lynley notes “constantly on the defensive.” She, on the other hand, refers to Lynley as an “arrogant, aristocratic ponce.”
A Great Deliverance is solid entertainment for mystery fans. It’s intensely interesting–on one level, there’s the murder, and all its attendant red herrings. The Yorkshire village is not exactly welcoming to outsiders, and it doesn’t help that the local constabulary loathes Lynley. On another level, the main characters of Lynley and Havers must deal with their own personal demons if they’re going to solve this case. Lynley is trying to come to terms with losing the woman he loves. He’d like to be obsessed about her, but he can’t afford to be. Havers is trying to manage her geriatric, senile parents long distance. Lastly, the detectives must also weld together a satisfactory working relationship, and this means they have to learn to communicate–without barbs, snide comments, or class-consciousness. When Lynley gives an order, Havers must accept it with grace and comply without muttering under her breath.